"This is all about Apple taking it to the next level," said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. "HP and Dell have amped up their game, so Apple's taken another step to put some distance between them and its rivals. Just like when Apple created the Air, it took others three or four years to compete. Apple wants to do the same here."
Apple will start selling the MacBook on April 10, a Friday, the same day it begins to take pre-orders for the Apple Watch.
Prices begin at $1,299 for the entry-level configuration, which features a 1.1GHz dual-core CPU, 8GB of RAM and 256GB of flash-based storage. The upper-end model, which runs $1,599, doubles the storage space to 512GB and boosts the processor to 1.2GHz.
"Those are very good prices," said Milanesi, considering the specifications. "Apple is clearly trying to make it a non-a niche product."
"It's still priced at Apple levels, but it's a great example of how they move stuff forward," said Dawson.
Apple also made minor tweaks to its MacBook Air and MacBook Pro notebooks, bumping up the processors in all models and shifting to faster flash storage memory. The MacBook Pro also received the same new trackpad featured in the MacBook.
MacBook Air and MacBook Pro prices did not change. The new models are available at Apple's online and retail stores today.
Sign up for MIS Asia eNewsletters.